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tv   This Week in Northern California  PBS  May 18, 2013 1:00pm-1:31pm PDT

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schools are the big winner in governor jerry brown's revised budget while he pushing back on calls to spend elsewhere. >> this is not the time to break out the champagne. >> over $1 billion unspent in a home loan program for veterans while thousands of vets go homeless. will the new bay bridge be safe? a federal probe puts transportation officials on the hot seat. >> what is caltrans going to do to earn the trust of the public? and anna deavere smith on the value of empathy from the board room to the court room. >> who is that boss you will
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talk to if you like a raise? who is that person you are about to fire? >> coming up next. captioning by vitac, underwritten by fireman's fund good evening. i'm scott shafer. welcome to "this week in northern california." joining me now for the panel are jaxon van derbeken, aaron glantz and josh richman. well, tax revenues have been higher than expected, but the revised state budget that
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governor brown released this week has left many still grumbling. education got a big boost of nearly $ $3 billion, but other programs got left behind. >> everybody wants to see this as a spending machine. come here and see if you can get it. when i'm the backstop and i'll keep the budget balanced as long as i'm around. >> josh richman, the legislation analyst came out with projections that were $3 billion higher. why the difference and what difference will it make as the budget talks begin? >> the $3 billion is spread out over three years. the difference in estimates deals with how much economic growth their forecasting over
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the next couple of years. jerry brown thinks things might slow down a little bit and also that the fact we are now paying back our full payroll tax rate means personal growth will not increase. he has the conservative number. the legislative analyst says it is rosier. the stock market is taking off. it is looking better. they caution. they could be wrong. now is not the time to start spending aimlessly. >> what is interesting, in the past, schwarzenegger or gray davis were overly optimistic to soften the blow and put off some of the tough decisions. this time it is the governor who is saying, no, no, no. it's not as good as you think. >> jerry brown has a decades long reputation for being cheap. that is why people elected him when he did. they did not think he would go in there despite the fact he is
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a democrat and spend in a very conspicuous sort of way. he was able to deliver good news this week. remember, the may revise is the updated forecast and plan he rolls out his original proposal in january. now we have the may revise. it starts the traditional budget season in sacramento where he and the legislation can fight about it for a couple of weeks and hopefully pass something. >> the democrats have 2/3 majority in both. they were muted support. there was not a lot of cheering this week. >> it was muted support from both sides of the aisle. republicans know it is a conservative estimate and he has not restored cut funding. some of the democrats are upset that he has not restored that funding. and an issue with the schools and how you target the disadvantaged students. that is something he has to work
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out in the next couple of weeks. generally, the overarking theme is isn't it nice to discuss the spending rather than how to cut the money we don't have. that is the first time in years we had the discussion. a lot of that is due to prop 30, the measure that jerry put on -- governor brown put on last november's ballot to raise sales taxes and income taxes on the wealthy citizens. he is adede adamant we don't fe this. >> he will not go for anymore taxes? i know democrats want the oil severance tax. >> i asked him that at the press conference right out the gate. he said in the past he reiterated this week he doesn't want to discuss anymore tax increases at this point. anything else has to go to the
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voters. he is not eager to put something before the voters. i'm paraphrasing. >> what are the chance the cuts will ever be restored at this rate? >> ever is a long time. darryl steinberg and john perez and the assembly members would like those cuts implemented post haste. until we know we have the money going forward, we cannot do that. there is some modest cal works spending increases in this. unfortunately, the courts, which have been suffering very badly are not getting more money now than projected in january. the chief justice is upset about that. >> is there any gimmickery in this budget? they are borrowing money from this or that?
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are they not in this budget, for example, taking from the cap and trade fund? >> exactly. that was one small controversy. this budget borrows $500 million from the cap and trade as a one-year loan to the general fund to help the books balance. the caveat with that is the loan can be repaid earlier if there is a need for that money from where it was actually supposed to be directed which was to pollution abatement and climate change and clean energy project and disadvantaged communities. if there is actually a plan and need for that money, the state could conceivably use the extra cash flow it had over the last couple of months. >> quickly, a big issue for jerry brown is the overcrowding in the prisons. is there any new money in there for that? >> pitching a bit more money out to the counties under the realignment plan. he doubled down. he still is in favor of this. basically with the federal
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courts breathing over his shoulder to reduce prison population, he has no choice. >> it sounds like he got dinged by the supreme court and he is still not complying completely. >> josh, thank you. a different story. for many veterans returning from iraq and afghanistan, other battles await them at home. from affordable housing and work. in california, a program to help veterans buy homes remains untapped. aaron glantz, you have been reporting on this. what is this program? they at least have money available. >> they have a lot of money because voters love it. the home loan program where veterans pay back the loans on the houses they buy and then they pay back the bonds with the interests on their loans. the last time it went to the voters in 2008, $900 million.
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no organized campaign against it. passed with 60% of the vote. of the $900 million, not one cent has gone to help a veteran buy a house. the agency that distributes the loans, the california veterans affairs department, they had over $1 billion in the kitty, they were only able to distribute 83 loans, they spent more money. >> where did the money come from for the loans? >> they are working off the other bond measure which passed in 2000. they had quite a bit of money left over from the 2000 bond measure. they said in 2008, they said the wars in afghanistan and iraq were going on. they need more money. they got $900 million more. they are still working ever so slowly on the bond measure from
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13 years ago. >> the state urging a correction. saying the money is not sitting there. we have not sold the bonds. there is declining demand for the loans anyway. declining demand. >> in 1998, the legislative analyst said they thought the program should be phased out because of the declining demand. at that point, they were making 1,600 loans a year. last year, they made 83 loans. it is not competitive with the private market and duplicates efforts that are done by the federal department of veterans affairs. the agency said, it is not like we're wasting taxpayer money. this money is sitting there. we have not sold the bonds. if you are a veteran and you are struggling and you know that there is this potential of $1 billion of the voters approved that is not being used, it's extremely frustrating. >> not only buying a home, but you have all of these homeless
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veterans. >> the speaker of the state assembly, we have the bond that we are not using. let's go back and take $600 million, half of the money that is sitting they're doing nothing and get it reappropriated to build housing for homeless veterans. los angeles is the number one city in the country for homeless veterans in california. let's use this money to house some people. >> the money that's been spent or the cost of program. what is the money being used for? >> the call center in sacramento. they have employees that work on the second floor of a building downtown. i went there last week. they did not seem to be doing very much. the phone did not ring when i was touring the call center. they don't appear to spend my money marketing this program. maybe if they did, people might find it useful. it is set up in the weird way. it was actually founded in 1921
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when world war i veterans were having trouble buying homes. it is a program where the state actually owns your house. they own the land and you are leasing it from the state until you pay it off. realtors rate it. there are a lot of reasons why it is not used. >> it is not a lack of awareness of the program, but the fact the program is not fulfilling the needs of people who cannot buy homes anyway if they are homeless or if they are buying a home, there are better deals for them. >> yes. >> what's the interest rate? >> they just lowered it to 3.9%. it is somewhat competitive. a year and a half ago, they were at 5% when the market was 2.5%. there are a lot of things that scare people off. >> they are talking about revising it. what's the plan for their big
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revamp? >> it sounded to me when i talked to them the only real way to make it attractive is to lower the interest rate. that makes it attractive, but it is still fundamentally not attractive as compared to the private sector and the government-backed loans. you can buy a loan through the california department of veterans affairs with little or no money down if you have decent credit. you can do that with the federal va with the traditional bank. >> quickly, you have done a lot of reporting on the backlog with the federal va. is there any relationship with this? >> the amazing thing, this is one of the reasons why this money has gone unnoticed for so long is that most people don't realize that california has its own department of veterans affairs. even most veterans don't know that. they are fighting for their benefits with the federal va. the state has socked this money away and is not even using it.
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>> if there is a change, it has to go back to the voters. >> 2014. >> aaron, thanks very much. you can hear more of aaron's reporting on next week's california reporting on kqed public radio. with revelations surfacing every week on the unsafe rides on the eastern span of the bay bridge, the legislation took action. lawmakers grilled caltrans about the questionable materials and how they were chosen. >> a bad batch of metal. these were made in illinois? >> ohio. >> are you going after them for that? >> we are working with our contractor. they are supplying to our contractor on requirements as we speak. >> and jaxon van derbeken, we have all of the investigations going on. lots of dust getting stirred up in sacramento. where are they leading in. >> they are leading back to caltrans and how they decided to put the particularly vulnerable
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rods in the bay bridge in the first place. they are very strong, the ironic thing is because they are strong, they can be weak to attack of nature or to just rain water. what happened with the first batch of 32 rods that failed, they left them in tubes that filled up with rain water. some experts believe that rain water was basically their doom because strength steel that is high strength has a coating. this is galvanized. if there is a gap in that coating, it can drive in toxic hydrogen. >> they were mishandled, but were the materials not up to standard? >> the materials they got were the materials they ordered. they are susceptible. they have 2,306s that are
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made to material if there were s and industry guidelines essentially black box style warnings. don't do this. it is not possible to do this and stick it out in the open air. >> how hard is it -- what has to be done to make sure it is safe? >> they need to check them to see if they are not too hard. they are in the process of doing that. >> did some snap? >> there were 32 that failed. the harder the steel, the more susceptible if you galvanize it. that is the issue. they had high stress because they tighten them down. the 32 were used to anchor seismic equipment. the idea is to cinch it down. when you have that much high strength steel and under high stress and rain water or marine environment, it is susceptible to attack.
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32 of the first 96 rods they put in and it has been in since 2008. since this time, they tightened them and within two weeks, it failed. >> how unsafe is this bridge they have been building now for 30 years? >> the only thing they will say is it will be safer than the old bridge. we will see how they deal with the problem. it is mostly the big concern that seismically they think it will be reliable. they don't want the bolts to fail over time. there are two problems. one, you can get the toxic hydrogen in in the short-term in manufacturing or it can be ingested into the steel and then suddenly one day crack without notice. >> jaxon, was there any revelation at the hearing this week? do we have a better sense of the decisions and why they were made? who is responsible?
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>> if you ask senator mark, he was left with more questions than answers at the proceeding. he wanted to know how it was that caltrans would use. one of the things we reported this stuff was banned by caltrans. they knew this galvanized steel was not used on the bridges. the rule in 2000 precluded the use. in 2002, they deviated their standard. the question who decided that is very much open. >> i understanding the checking of some of the rods is problematic because there is construction of road above them. what does this do for the opening date of the bridge? >> it is up in the air. they are talking about retrofitting the opening day party or the gatherings they planned. the preview dates and all that stuff. right now, we don't know if it will make that date. i think that ty are hoping
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that they can replace the rods that are vulnerable over the long term and bypass the rods that failed and create a giant steel straddle with cables in lieu of the bolts that failed. >> if they have it in that situation after they open the bridge, it's still much safer than the bridge i drive on now three times a week, right? >> that's what they say. if they don't get all of the seismic equipment anchored down just right or they have to wait to replace the potentially at-risk rods over time, they are saying no matter what, you are safer than the old bridge. >> quickly, jerry brown has been quiet. he said i think the other day or last week, stuff happens. you know, not your zen-like response to it. should he be more involved in this do you think? is there a role for him if he were more engaged on this issue? >> i think the technical experts
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have to figure out what to do. i'm not sure the governor could weigh in on that topic. >> jaxon, thank you. it is a word not often heard in politics or news, empathy is something leaders might want to cultivate says playwright anna deavere smith. i spoke with her about a workshop in san francisco teaching the value and practice of empathy. >> i'm waiting here. how long i'm going to have to sit out before i can roll again. they told me they will have to remove my left kidney. i said i'm a bull if i just have one kidney left. i soon have two. >> anna deavere smith, thank you for coming in. >> thank you for having me. >> let's talk about the workshop. i know empathy is a big part of what people are learning. how can you teach empathy? >> you can give people skills. i have been studying that for years in the work i have been
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doing interviewing. some of your audience will know about the work i have done. i interview people and perform them. i study their voice and movements. i think empathy is about paying attention. we think of it as a soft thing, but i think you really can develop skills that allow you to put yourself in other people's shoes. that is what we are doing in san francisco from june 12th to june 19th. >> what is it besides listening carefully? >> i'm watching for every movement and watching for every utterance. for 25 years, i use a tape recorder and i show up and "do" people. they say how do you get the movements? there is something going on when you pay close attention. doctors tell you part of healing is if a person is listened to. it is because the listener feels the other person. >> body language. >> yes. >> look, there were guys -- people denied a lot of great
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opportunities. one guy was five times second in the tour de france. sucks to be him. but the way i look at it, he didn't make the sacrifices i made. he did not do the things he did. he did not have the work ethic. he didn't have the team i had. that's what you get. >> so this workshop is not just for actors, although there will be actors. it is also for community leaders and business leaders. what will they do? >> it sounds like a soft word, doesn't it? i think it could give people in business an opportunity to learn how to manage up and manage down. who was that boss you will talk to if you would like a raise? who is that person you are about to fire or who is that person you would like to bring along to raise to another level? it is really studying human behavior. using the things we know as actors and things that playwrights know from studying
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human behavior and share that in the corporate world and public space and with teachers. >> i remember a few years ago when president obama had the first vacancy on the supreme court. somebody asked him what are you looking for in a judge. somebody said i'm looking for someone with empathy. republicans jumped all over him. what do you think of that? >> i think it is too soft of a word. i asked sandra day o'connor if there was any grace in the courtroom. >> what do you mean by that? >> what i mean is a space for something that was more than just you're bad or you're good. that's what i think about when i say that. you know, i was surprised. she said there are things that can happen in the courtroom that are sad or frightening. i like to think that someone
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like a judge or a justice like o'connor knows what people are going through. i think it makes even a judge or the person who is about to put something down on you a better judge. it gives them dignity. >> what do you hope -- and this workshop costs $2,500. i'm not making a judgment about that, but is this sort of helping people who are well off become more empathetic? >> we will have scholarships, that's number one. you know, unfortunately good things cost money and new models cost money. i'm bringing five extraordinary teachers with me from new york. a woman who is a brilliant listener. a former heavyweight boxer and a julliard teacher. it will be very intense and a nice foundation will support two
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scholarships. i'm looking for more. >> so much is about inner personal communication. so much for younger people is texting and e-mail and facebook. what do you think that does to one's ability to be empathetic? >> probably, you know, it doesn't help. it certainly doesn't help with basic communication. you know, it doesn't help people complete sentences. part of what social media does is cause the environment of everybody is a star. look at me. one thing i like about the president's inauguration address is we need to become a "we" culture. on the one hand, social media is allowing everybody to feel the potential of an audience around them. i don't know if this sort of sending out and coming back inside of your small world or niche is really helping us get the social still egcial skills e
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asociety. >> your new book is focusing on education. from what i can tell, it is a departure from your other works which you described where you interview people in a dramatic documentary form. how will this be different? >> education chose me. somebody came to me and said you need to pay attention to this. some people say it is the next civil rights movement. it is at a really extraordinary time. we are thinking about technology, but test scores cannot do it all and we have to make classrooms where people feel like they belong. that's right up my alley. >> this will be something you are working on. when will it be in theaters? >> maybe a year and a half from now. >> all right. anna deavere smith, thank you. >> thanks for having me. >> you will find a link on our web page at that is our show for tonight.
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jaxon, josh, aaron, thank you for being here. you have your empathy lesson for the weekend. practice it. one program note. we are off next friday for the memorial day weekend. we wish you a very happy holiday. i'm scott shafer. thanks for watching. good night.
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you are getting sleepy at least that's what most people think when they consider hypnosis. >> it's like a 20 minute session you sit in a recliner, relax. >> despite common opinions clinical hypnosis beginning to develop a reputation as a cheap viable alternative on handling many of life's most nagging issues. that story on this edition of equal. >> san jose state universe to you ear watching equal time. exploring new issues each week. welcome to san jose state university and this edition of equal time. i'm your